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Mayor Announces New Little Rock Revitalization Initiatives

Dilapidated and abandoned buildings line Asher Avenue in south Little Rock. The city is hoping to revitalize this area through a plan announced Wednesday.
Michael Hibblen

Little Rock Mayor Frank Scott Jr. has announced a three-part plan to revitalize parts of south and southwest Little Rock.

At a press conference Wednesday, he said the city is working to revitalize three properties along Asher Avenue that have fallen into disrepair. The city will offer a new “incentive package” for business owners looking to invest in the area, Scott said, with one aspect of that including the lifting of application fees for building permits.

“We will waive those particular fees as we move forward,” Scott said. “We’ve partnered with both Central Arkansas Water and Little Rock Water Reclamation Authority to provide a waving of fees and also reduction of costs to have a total infrastructure incentive package for south of [Interstate] 630, east of [Interstate] 30.”

Scott said the package will apply to properties included in the city’s existing Opportunity Zones, as well as some additional parts of wards 6 and 7. UA Little Rock Chancellor Christina Drale said the university also plans to develop the University Plaza shopping center to offer more retail, restaurant and cultural offerings.

“Our plans have always been to rebuild this center with a focus not just on our campus needs, but also how those might intersect with the interests of business and the concerns of the community in which we live,” Drale said. “This is a really important project for us. We hope to begin that redevelopment process this year.”

The University Plaza center sits at the northeast corner of Asher and University, and is also the home of KUAR/KLRE UA Little Rock Public Radio. Drale said the university will work with stakeholders and the University District Development Corporation on the project.

“A redeveloped center on the south end of the UA Little Rock campus will provide an important face to the Asher Avenue corridor. It will add to the positive development the mayor sees for this part of Little Rock and we are excited to be a part of these changes,” Drale said.

Scott said the plan also seeks to spur retail growth hindered by the coronavirus pandemic, and that more announcements on revitalizations in the south and southwest Little Rock areas are coming in the next few weeks.

“We're beginning to see the retail still moving in this way, it's a different phenomenon as we move forward, and we want to stand ready to be helpful in any way possible that a city can to our retail development as well as in our partnership with UA Little Rock as they are focused on retail development along the Asher Avenue area,” Scott said.

The three properties set for refurbishment along the Asher Avenue corridor are 5518 W. 33rd St., 4500 Asher Ave., and 3004 Lewis St. Scott said the city hopes to begin work on the properties within the next three months.

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